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Meghalaya

Meghalaya is situated in the north-eastern region of India, between the Brahmaputra valley in the north and the Bangladesh in the south. It extends for about 300 kilometres in length and about 100 kilometres in breadth. The state was created in 1972 from the Khasi, Jaintia, Garo districts of Assam, which were formerly small kingdoms inhabited by separate tribal groups. The state of Meghalaya (the abode of clouds) is geographically known as the "Meghalaya Plateau" or the "Shillong Plateau".

Meghalaya, the 21st state of the Indian Union, was declared a full fledged state on January 21st ,1972. Meghalaya is also called the Scotland of East. It is endowed with a rich variety of natural beauty. Of the 17,000 species of orchids in the world, about 1,250 exit in India, of which nearly 300 are found in Meghalaya. Meghalaya is also rich in wildlife. It is the home of a variety of animals and birds. The scenic beauty and the deep green forests hills, tree covered slopes, rippling waterfalls, silent lakes, mountain springs, moving mist and multitudes of flora and fauna including rare and unique species make the exquisite panorama of Meghalaya. Shillong - the capital of Meghalaya is also the center-point located at an altitude of 1496 meters above sea level.

Location Situated between 25 and 26.15 degree north latitude and 89.45 and 92.47 degree east longitude, Meghalaya is bordered in the North and East by Assam and South by Bangladesh. The neighbouring states are Nagaland, Manipur Mizoram, Tripura and Assam.

History of Meghalaya Before the British came to Assam, the Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes had their own kingdoms ruled by Rajas until the British captured them in the 19th century to build a road through the region. The British incorporated Meghalaya into Assam in 1835. After the India's independence in 1947, Meghalaya was given an autonomous status within Assam. However the Meghalayans were not complacent with the arrangement and launched a peaceful and constitutional struggle for greater independence. The turning point in their struggle came when Assam introduced Assamese as the state language, a language alien to the tribes of Meghalaya. The Centre recognized their plight and their right for a state of their own. On 21st January 1972, Meghalaya became a full-fledged state. Meghalaya has a single-chamber Legislative Assembly of 60 seats. The state sends three members to the Indian national parliament, one to the Rajya Sabha (upper house) and two to the Lok Sabha (lower house).

Festivals of Meghalaya The festivals and dances of the tribes in Meghalaya vary according to the region and tribe. These festivals are held annually, when the ancestral spirits are appeased, following sowing and harvesting. Ka Pomblang Nongkrem or the Nongkrem dance, is one of the most important festival of the Khasis. Behdiengkhlam, the most significant festival of the Jaintias is celebrated annually at Jowai in Jaintia Hills, during the month of July. Wangala, is the main festival of the Garos. The various dances are an important part of the festivals. Shad Sukmynsiem is another important festival of the Khasis.

Places in Meghalaya There are various tourist spots in Meghalaya, where nature unveils herself in all her glory. The tourist spots can be seen in the three different areas in Meghalaya, namely the Khasi hills, Jaintia hills and Garo Hills. Shillong, the capital city is located in the Khasi hills. Shillong has various beautiful sites. Cherrapunji and Mawsynram, also known as the wettest place of the world are located in Meghalaya. Cherrapunji is known for the famous Nohsngithiang falls, limestone caves and some natural stone formations. The Garo Hills form the western part of Meghalaya, and are paradise for naturalists. The place offers a panoramic view of the sweeping curves of Bhramhaputra and the low lying plains. The sunset from Tura peak, the highest point of the place at about 1400 m is a wonderful experience.

How to reach Meghalaya The nearest major airport is located in Guwahati, about 128 kms. Shillong is connected to Kolkata by air. The nearest railway station is over 100 km away at Guwahati, which is well connected to the rest of the country. The state has less than 1000 km of surfaced roads and there is only one major road from Guwahato to Shillong. The National Highway 40 connects New Delhi and other major cities in India to Meghalaya.